Pittsburgh Boudoir Photographer, Boudoir Photography Pittsburgh, My business is personal
My mother had this crazy idea that men go crazy come the holidays. There is an unspoken pressure to provide and perform more. They crack. The two to three weeks before Christmas are the biggest break-up weeks of the whole year; I am sure those relationships end just as much on the desires of women as those of men. I am simply stating that my mother had this theory and it is supported by facts. It is the time of year when we all reflect. We metaphorically “wrap up” the eleven previous months and prepare for a whole heap of “new” ahead of us. Sometimes that means ending relationships, looking ahead to new adventures, setting new boundaries, making plans…..but before we get to that place of a bright sunny positivity and excitement; we must first deal with the shit we have we have been putting off. You know, the dirty work. I am rolling up my sleeves and getting down to it. My bloody empathic heart needs to get some things off my chest.
*this is one of my favorite fucking boudoir sessions all year. I squealed and gushed and moaned and cried and sighed all over this woman. I’ve been waiting to share her session. this blog post has nothing to do with her, she is a dream and you’ll see more of her soon. her images make me happy and that is why they are being shared, they have nothing to do with the words I am brain dumping on Y’all.
You know that saying, “It’s not personal, its business.” Well for me, my business is personal. What we do during a boudoir shoot is extremely personal. When somebody tells you about her affair or her husband’s affair, or about giving birth to a stillborn child, eating disorders, about sick parents in the hospital or about the years of abuse they suffer from their husband; I take that home. Your stories that you are so beautifully vulnerable enough to share with me, become part of my story. I am your secret keeper. I think about you more than you know and I am rooting for you in every way. Naked bodies and naked emotions go hand in hand. I know it can feel a bit like a one night stand, but honestly, my heart and my ears are here for you always.
The Girlfriend Experience Boudoir has grown more than I expected. Not more than I hoped but more than I expected. A male client put it into perspective recently when he called it “growing pains.” I will spare you the story or perhaps I will just save it for another time. I’ll just say this, millennials aren’t the only ones eating ass these days. Back to the growing pains, I used to take great pride in never taking more than 2 hours to get back to my clients. I would sit down on the floor of a Target to get back to whoever walked into my inbox. Each email returned was unique and personal. My kids could throw a fit about being stuck in a cart that wasn’t moving but god forbid, I let 3 hours pass without getting back to a client. Then 1 client became 20 then 40 then I woke up and my kids were teenagers. They were starting to feel like my email was more important than they are. They don’t understand that Kim who has been married to an alcoholic for 28 years and recently survived breast cancer and her marriage is stronger than ever and her husband is sober and she feels alive and so thankful and wants to celebrate herself and give her husband an amazing gift just emailed me and I am sooooo afraid that if I don’t get back to her RIGHT this moment, she will move on to another photographer.
Kim is important. My kids are important. If I don’t respond to her email and she really does move on, I feel like I lost. I lost the connection, I lost the income, I lost the experience, I lost the ability…but to my children, the amount of time I spent investing into Kim or any potential client for that matter they were losing. My email dings my phone and draws my attention away from them. In the spring, I hired an office manager and got the majority of the backend stuff automated. Responses actually come in 5 minutes which kicks the ass of my two hours without question. There doesn’t have to be a 7 day email string to guide you through the booking process now you can decide at 7:43 pm that you are finally ready for you to own boudoir experience with us at The GFE Boudoir, by 7:50 your contract is signed and at 7:54 you are paying your deposit and come 8 pm you are filling your online cart with lingerie and fuck me pumps. The online booking process has been a lifesaver and we have many happy clients who have been able to make their boudoir dreams come true. When it works, it means the client has read everything and is here for the experience and will do whatever it takes. When it doesn’t, it all but falls apart at seams. Tonight, it fell apart. I took my fiesty feelings to our Instagram stories and said THIS IS MY BOUNDARY. A prospective client freaked out because we won’t hold your shoot date and time for 24 hours while you make up your mind. Well, THE AUTOMATED system gives you 60 minutes. I can’t give anyone that much power in my life. This isn’t just me. This is me, the stylist, the assistant, and the studio manager and the hours that we work can’t be consumed by someone who isn’t serious. You do not get to hold our time hostage from either our personal obligations or from clients who are committed from the jump. Your doctor, your hairdresser….they don’t do these things. Why should I be expected to hold a date for someone isn’t quite sure? When you’re ready I will be here but I can’t put everything on pause for a maybe. That sounds like shitty relationship stuff to me.
You have to pay to play for Shorty bang bang to look your way. Thanks, Blackstreet, I needed that reminder.
The Girlfriend Experience Boudoir has grown more than I expected. Not more than I hoped but more than I expected. A male client put it into perspective recently when he called it “growing pains.” I will spare you the story or perhaps I will just save it for another time. I’ll just say this, millennials aren’t the only ones eating ass these days. Back to the growing pains, I used to take great pride in never taking more than 2 hours to get back to my clients. I would sit down on the floor of a Target to get back to whoever walked into my inbox. Each email returned was unique and personal. My kids could throw a fit about being stuck in a cart that wasn’t moving but god forbid, I let 3 hours pass without getting back to a client. Then 1 client became 20 then 40 then I woke up and my kids were teenagers. They were starting to feel like my email was more important than they are. They don’t understand that Kim who has been married to an alcoholic for 28 years and recently survived breast cancer and her marriage is stronger than ever and her husband is sober and she feels alive and so thankful and wants to celebrate herself and give her husband an amazing gift just emailed me and I am sooooo afraid that if I don’t get back to her RIGHT this moment, she will move on to another photographer. The growing pains are mine, learning to let go and letting others help me or seek more help.
All the emails. The prep-guides. The magazines. The facebook group. All the things I have in place in order to give you the best boudoir photo shoot experience from the first interaction to the delivery of your product were created from first-hand experience to make sure that your shoot lives up to its potential. Maybe you have done this once before or maybe it is your first time, but after almost 9 years in, I have been here before and I know what works and what doesn’t. Nothing that I do or provide to you before your shoot was pulled from thin air. Tried and tested. On 100’s of bodies before. If I tell you not to spray tan, don’t ask me to fix your orange hands. If you opt out of styling and I tell you I won’t retouch your sisters best friends little cousins makeup job don’t get your panties in a bunch, trust me that her mineral makeup and patchy winged liner photographs like absolute shit and I won’t put extra hours of my time and the retouchers time in to fixing it when you were told NO and to book with our stylist in the first place. What I share with you is quality controlled. Even wardrobe suggestions have come from the women that came before you. What flatters and what photographs well might be different from what you think but I can absolutely guarantee that if you hate your mama tummy and you bring panties that dig into it, you will not feel comfortable posing in said underpants that have now rolled under the soft skin. I know this from the bodies I have worked with but also from my own mama tummy. I want to give you the same level of work that you see here and on our social media platforms. I can pose your baby toe and show you how to literally move one tit to get you into the all sorts of extra position to flatter all of those bodacious curves and direct you through your facial emotions like we are making a run for an academy award; but if you want to talk about it feeling silly or dumb or how you hate your face, just know that your body isn’t my first and it might not even be my first of the day. I have photographed over 200 women just this year; now assume the position girl; we have blood pressure to raise! I know what I am doing, I totally expect you to not know what you are doing; so long as you trust me!
We have some shifts that are happening for the coming year and I wanted to start looking forward to all of the new wonderment that is sure to come but I just had to wrap up those loose ends. These small aches in my empathic heart. Frustration happens to all of us. For me, I get frustrated when I know a shoot could have gone better if I hadn’t hear those dreaded words, “I know you said XYZ, BUT….” When your husband says, “Dinner was great BUT, your mashed potatoes are lumpy.” You don’t hear the dinner was great part anymore. The BUT undoes the compliment. The end of the year in customer service isn’t for the faint-hearted. My skin has grown thicker over the years. While I have learned to not take shitty attitudes, bitchy moods and regular old fears personal; it is actually one of the hardest business lessons that I try to tackle daily. Not every prospective client will be MY client. Sometimes I am going to book Kim and change her life and other times Kim might tell me she is disappointed when I tell her that we are booked for the next 3 months or that I don’t think Santa costumes are sexy and I am so sorry I couldn’t meet her needs and then she tells me she is going to look on Groupon. Not personal. This is a business. But for the women that do move ahead WITH me and The Girlfriend Experience studio, just know that what exists between you and I is as personal as it gets. I will remember little details about you for the rest of my life and I hope this experience is something that you treasure forever. The next time I catch myself saying ‘It’s not personal, it is business.’ I am going to remind myself that I feel the way I do because my business is personal. I want the best for all of us.